As I outlined in my preview of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, my history with the franchise is a pretty limited one. So when I went to preview Modern Warfare Remastered right after demoing the latest in the series, I knew I’d be getting a little lesson in just how far it has come all this time, and why exactly the original Modern Warfare is such a beloved classic (during the Call of Duty XP 2016 Briefing, almost nothing got louder cheers than the mention of its revival). And while playing this spiffed-up version of the 2007 FPS was a little jarring after experiencing the latest and greatest of CoD’s offerings, what surprised me most was just how well this game held up after almost a decade.
One of the disappointing realizations of being a longtime video game fan is coming to understand just how much nostalgia can color one’s memories of the past. I’ve returned to many a title that I used to love, only to find the experience weathered by the passage of time (Rare’s Jet Force Gemini is one of the most crushing disappointments among these). When the seventh console generation heralded a newfound realism in graphics, it seemed to some that the concept of games becoming outdated may have actually become an archaic one itself. This didn’t turn out to be true, of course; as someone who didn’t get to experience Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune when it came out, I found myself stunned by just how terribly it had aged when I played through the original version earlier this year.
A fresh coat of paint and some fine-tuning can make a huge difference, naturally, and perhaps that’s what helps Modern Warfare Remastered feel so fresh almost ten years after its original release. There are definitely things about it that feel strange in comparison to modern shooters — like I said, I played this directly after Infinite Warfare, so the first thing that immediately stood out to me was the relative lack of mobility (as one fellow member of the press jokingly screamed, “Oh my God, there’s no sliding in this game!”). The original Modern Warfare was as fast and furious as it got in 2007, but it can’t help but feel a little sluggish nowadays; there’s just a slower speed overall, no clambering over tall obstacles while on the move, no boost-jumping and yes, no sliding.
I don’t really think that makes much of a difference, though; just because most modern shooters are fast doesn’t mean we can’t slow down once in awhile. In fact, as someone who struggled a bit to keep up with the pace of Infinite Warfare’s chaotic multiplayer (nothing new, if you’ve ever read me talk about my lack of multiplayer prowess before), the more leisurely pace was kind of refreshing.
I had more time to plan things out, more time to aim at my opponents and sneaking around seemed a lot more feasible when all players had to deal with the same movement limitations. It’s an interesting choice to me that many modern games pretty much let players go anywhere, anytime, so it was nice to step back a bit and deal with strategizing in situations where certain parts of the map are more difficult to access.
It’s disappointing that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will only be available to people who purchase certain special editions of Infinite Warfare. I really think players who have felt left behind by the series’ more recent entries (whether or not their reasons for feeling that way are justified) deserve a chance to experience this classic game with a tune-up and a fresh coat of paint, and it’s also a shame to know that folks like me — who didn’t get to play it the first time around — will have to shell out extra cash for a game they might not want in order to enjoy this improved version.
I would say this even if Modern Warfare Remastered were a lousy revision, but the fact that it played so well only makes this cynical business decision sting more. Here’s to hoping Activision eventually relents on this and releases a standalone version, but until that hypothetical day, I can only report that the game itself is looking great — players will have to decide for themselves whether getting their hands on it through the current methods is right for them.
Looking for more Call of Duty XP 2016 coverage? We Got This Covered has been at the event all weekend to check out Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer, the new Jackal Assault VR experience and Infinity Ward’s take on the series’ famous Zombies mode.